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Nick Bromberg

Aric Almirola to be on standby for Jimmie Johnson

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Jimmie Johnson's wife Chandra is due in five weeks with the couple's first child, a girl, and while Johnson said Friday that Aric Almirola will be his backup driver if he needs to leave the racetrack for the birth of his daughter, everything else was up in the air.

Chandra Johnson is due after the race at Chicagoland Speedway, which is an off weekend for the Cup Series. But as we all know, babies don't necessarily arrive in the vicinity of their due dates.

"If the baby does decide to come earlier, Aric will be there," Jimmie Johnson said. "The first goal for me would be to drive a lap and get some points but it just depends on the situation. And there could be a situation where I have to make a tough decision. Do I wait and drive that one lap and potentially miss the birth of our daughter or do I stick around? That exists. There's no way around that. It just depends on how things shake out."

Because of Johnson's recent misfortune, he's only — relatively speaking, of course — in seventh place in the points standings and has a 151-point cushion on 13th place Clint Bowyer. Given that the most points possible in a race are 195, it's not ideal at this point for Johnson to have to get out of the car. If he went on a tear as he's apt to do, and that cushion got considerably bigger in the next couple races, then Johnson could even consider getting out of the car for a race entirely.

"I guess we could if we had a monster lead," Jimmie Johnson said. It would be an easy decision at that point. In my mind and even in Chani's mind, I need to make a lap in that car. The one tough one that we have will be Sonoma because it's so far away. I believe — where are we after that? Chicago, Daytona — it's not far away in the scheme of things if labor takes 20 hours, you know? She starts to labor and I have some time — a 10-hour window or something to get there — we can work with that."

Carl Edwards also had to play the baby birth guessing game during the first couple weeks of the season, but daughter Annie was born the Wednesday before the Las Vegas race and Edwards didn't miss any seat time. Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate and quasi-rival Jeff Gordon and his wife are also expecting this summer, but Gordon said Friday that he hasn't decided on a contigency plan as the birth of the couple's second child, a son, approaches.

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